BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ - Wondering where to start today while touring historic sites in Somerset County? Try a local spot, the Boudinot-Southard-Ross Estate, at 135 North Maple Avenue, Basking Ridge. Also known as Ross Farm, the Estate is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

This hidden gem offers something for everyone, from a historic home, to a perfect spot for adults and children to fly kites, which are supplied by the Friends, a bake sale, a play, a huge giving garden and even a spot to grab a snack and rest a bit.

The first spot most people find is the patio, as they walk in from the parking area. On Saturday, grill master David Torcivia cooked hamburgers and hot dogs while fellow Friends of the Boudinot-Southard-Ross Estate Board Member Peter Winter dispensed drinks and took orders. 

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Torcivia recommended a visit to the Giving Garden, which was started three years ago. He said volunteers built the gardens in raised beds and, “with the help of volunteers from several different church groups, this year it has produced albout 1,700 pounds of produce which is given to the Somerset County Food Bank and other charitable groups.” A while later, a volunteer erased the 1,700 pound number and replaced it with "1,852."

Since The Boudinot-Southard-Ross Estate is owned by Somerset County, as is Lord Stirling Stable, finding compost for the gardens isn’t a problem. “The stable composts the horse manure, then sends it here, and we use it in the garden,”  said Torcivia.

Winter quipped, “They don’t just give it to just anybody.”

The Boudinot-Southard-Ross Estate is also home to the Trilogy Repertory, which keeps its costume inventory on the property and whose members are putting on a period piece in the barn during Journey Through The Past at Ross Farms.

Outside the mansion, a bake sale offers all sorts of homemade goodies, with all proceeds going to support the King family, and Katies-Crew. 

Kristin Koes-McQuaid, who organized the bake sale, explained “Katie is a 10-year-Old Basking Ridge resident who attends Oak Street School. A fourth-grade student, she was diagnosed at the end of August with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer.” 

Koes-McQuaid said she organized the bake sale and established a fundraising site for the family because they are neighbors. To learn more, or to donate, visit the website.

On Saturday, Hilary Klimek, a member of the board of Friends of The Boudinot-Southard-Ross Estate manned the sunflower painting craft room, where children were encouraged to paint a sunflower using, among other things, a tiny fork.  

Klimek took a break from painting duties and offered a tour of the garden, which is a short walk from the house. Along with traditional vegetable gardens, there is a butterfly garden, a bed devoted to native plants and a historical bed where plants that grew in colonial times are planted. She said, “The historical bed is a homage of sorts to Caroline Foster” who donated her childhood home and it’s Farm to the Morris County Park Commission.  Fosterfields Farms is a Living Historical Farm, where the same crops are planted and harvested, using period equipment and tools.

The garden was a busy place, and knowledgeable volunteers provided advice on planting, transplanting and even irrigation to interested visitors.

Ross Farm will be open from noon to 4 p.m. today, Sunday, Oct. 15. There are 28 other historical sites open today in Somerset County as the Journey Through The Past continues.